Baby play mat

A play mat is a padded surface that can be a nice spot for your little one to spend some playtime or supervised tummy time each day, while a baby activity mat or gym can be great for your baby’s development with lots of simple toys that encourage your baby to explore and learn.

If you’re looking for one or the other — or perhaps both — you’ve come to the right place! Check out the results of our survey of around 1,000 Pampers Parents and discover which baby play mats and activity gyms they thought were the best and why.

What to Look for When Choosing a Baby Activity Gym or Play Mat

When it comes to choosing the right baby play mat or gym for you and your little one, Pampers Parents recommend considering the following:

  • Comfort and softness. Pampers Parents said that the softness and comfort of the mat was a top priority.

  • Toys and features. Pampers Parents said that it was important that the mat or gym had plenty of features and/or toys to entertain and stimulate their babies. Common toys include a hanging plush toy, an unbreakable mirror, and a ball that your baby can have fun spinning.

  • Interesting attachments. Some Pampers Parents said they looked for interesting hanging attachments, like ones that make a noise or have different textures. Go for something that is visually stimulating from underneath — not just from the side — as that is where very young babies will spend the most time looking at the toys.

  • Colors, pattern, and texture. Many Pampers Parents said that bright colors were a priority for them, while others also said that patterns and textures were also a deciding point for a baby activity mat. Keep in mind that while pastels and muted colors are fashionable and can look great in your baby’s nursery, your little one might prefer to look at bold colors and patterns.

  • Easy to clean. As your baby might drool on the mat or be touching it with sticky fingers, a baby mat or gym that’s easy to clean is especially important. Look for a mat that is machine washable, and check that any toys are easy to wipe down.

  • Grows with your baby. Some baby mats and gyms grow with your baby, meaning that they can be used as your little one grows physically and makes developmental progress, too.

  • Size. Some mats are bigger than others, so check the size before making a purchase.

  • Durability. Get a mat or a gym that is capable of withstanding wear and tear, especially if you want your little one to use it into toddlerhood, or perhaps if you want to put it aside to eventually be used by a younger sibling.

  • Price. Baby gyms and mats come at many different price points, so choose one that you find is good value for money and fits your budget.

  • Easy to store. Many Pampers Parents wanted a mat or a gym that was easy to store when not using, or that was easy to take with them on a vacation or day out.

The 3 Best Baby Play Mats

If you’re looking to help your little one gets some tummy time, have a look at these Pampers Parents picks for the best baby play mats:

1. Skip Hop Camping Cubs Baby Play Mat

Why pick this one? Your baby will no doubt be a happy camper with this camping-inspired play mat. This baby play mat comes with 17 different features to enthrall your little one, including a scenic mesh backdrop, a bear rattle, a teething ring, a light-up firefly, an unbreakable mirror, and flaps on the mat itself that your baby can lift up to reveal cute woodlands characters. This play mat even features music with one of the toys playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

The toys hang from soft “wooden” poles, and you can set the height of the toys as your baby grows using the added loops.

Pampers Parents loved that this baby mat was soft and cute, with lots of textures that their little ones could touch and play with. They also found it easy to clean.

Although this was voted as the best play mat among Pampers Parents, they were divided about the quality of the product, with a few saying that they found the Skip Hop Camping Cubs Baby Play Mat to be of good quality, while others said they found that it fell apart easily.

Some Pampers Parents also wished this baby mat could change as their babies grow, and that the padding had been better on the bottom. Overall, though, this baby mat works for tummy time, overhead play (with your baby on her back), and seated play once your baby can sit, so you should be able to get a lot of use out of it!

This is such a soft, adorable baby mat. My daughter did tummy time and watched her little nursery cartoons here. At 6 months she still uses it! There is a cushion area in the mat which is great for when she started rolling over. I will definitely be storing it away for kid number two.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Has a whimsical, outdoor feel that evokes a campground scene.

Price*: about $84.99 on Amazon.com Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Soft and cute✕ Poles can fall apart easily
✓ Easy to clean✕ Not big enough as child grows
✓ 17 developmental activities ✕ Padding could be better

 

2. Bright Starts Disney Finding Nemo Baby Play Mat

Why pick this one? Pampers Parents love the Finding Nemo theme of this baby play mat, especially the interactive toys that come with it. This baby mat comes with more than 20 minutes of ocean themed melodies plus multi-sensory toys based on the movie's characters.

This play mat comes with rattles, an unbreakable mirror, little plastic tiles that your baby will love making sounds with, and a pillow.

The stingray-shaped canopy becomes the backdrop for a light show for when you want to entertain your little one with flashing lights.

Keep in mind, you’ll need batteries for the music and lights, and some Pampers Parents said the ray came off the mat too easily when pulled. Overall, though, Pampers Parents found that their little ones loved the light show and jingles.

Other Pampers Parents wished this baby mat were larger and easier to wash.

Well, for starters Finding Nemo is an awesome, colorful theme. Plenty of little gadgets to play with, and I know if I were a baby, I would want this one!!

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Comes with a Dory finger puppet that you can use to entertain your little one during tummy time.

Price*: about $69.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Finding Nemo Theme✕ The canopy falls easily when pulled
✓ Lights and interactive toys✕ The mat could be bigger
✓ The mat grows with the baby ✕ The mat could be easier to wash

 

3. Baby Care Play Mat

Why pick this one? What’s unique about this baby mat is its size and its reversible sides. On one side it looks like a modern area rug and on the other side it features cute animals and the letters of the alphabet. This means you can flip it based on your needs.

This large, one-piece baby mat offers a comfortable place for your baby to practice tummy time, but will also work as a spot for your toddler or even preschooler to play or read comfortably later on. Pampers Parents liked the size — which is comparable to a queen-size mattress — and its softness.

This play mat doesn’t feature any additional toys or activities, but it does the job as a basic play mat, and you might love it for its size and choice of patterns. Your little one will still have somewhere comfy to sit, even if he outgrows being interested in the animal patterns on the one side.

The manufacturer claims that its innovative cushioning is so soft an egg wouldn’t break even when dropped onto it from a 10 foot height — though we don’t recommend testing this unless you’re prepared for the cleanup!

Pampers Parents found this mat easy to clean, but they said it was not easily portable or easy to store. Others were not fans of the design, though this comes down to personal preference and taste.

It is large and the foam is comfortable. My little one has plenty of play space and when she takes a tumble it does not faze her!

Pampers Parent

Highlights: This mat is waterproof and reversible. It's free of phthalates, BPA, lead, latex, and formaldehyde.

Price*: about $69.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Large size✕ Not easy to transport
✓ Soft with great cushioning✕ Not easy to store 
✓ Easy to clean 

 

The 7 Best Baby Activity Gyms

Pampers Parents voted on the best baby activity gyms. Read their reviews to find out which one is right for you and your baby:

1. Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Flip & Fun Activity Gym

Why pick this one? This baby gym tops the list with Pampers Parents loving how it is not only great for tummy time, but also keeps up with their growing babies.

Pampers Parents loved that this baby gym is suitable for a wide range of ages and development stages. Your baby can either lie on her back and play with hanging toys from the arch, or enjoy tummy time and explore the colorful mat.

The arch is also reversible for added stimulation.

This baby gym comes with three removable toys: an unbreakable mirror, a rattle, and a tactile toy. Pampers Parents liked that all the toys can be detached and cleaned easily, with many components being machine washable.

Although some Pampers Parents liked its compact design, most said they wished this baby gym were wider, especially since it had been designed to grow with their baby. Others also wished it had more counterweight for enhanced stability.

Overall, this play mat is relatively easy to store — you simply fold the play mat in half and it’s ready to stow away. It even has a loop so that it’s easy to carry or hang when not in use.

I have bought multiple gym mats but this one was the only one my daughter liked… As she grew older she enjoyed rolling around and playing with the toy attachments. She used the arch to help her sit up and also used it to help balance her as she started to stand… The amount of uses for this play mat is incredible!

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Neatly folds up and can be transported easily with all the toys secured inside.

Price*: about $24.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Can be used for tummy time or lay and play✕ Could be wider
✓ Has toys and features suitable for younger or older babies✕ Could be more stable 
✓ Components are detachable and washable 

 

2. Baby Einstein 5-in-1 Journey of Discovery Activity Gym

Why pick this one? It’s never too early to start teaching your baby about the world she lives in, and this activity gym is all about exploration. The mat itself features a basic world map, so in the years to come you can teach your little one all about the different continents.

One unique feature is that you can lift the sides to create an enclosed space; then simply throw in the 10 colorful balls provided and you now have a mini ball pit in your home that your baby or toddler will just love.

The gym comes with a baby-safe mirror, rattles, plush toys, and a pillow. But, that’s not all! It also plays 20 minutes of what the manufacturer calls “global-themed” music — just remember you’ll need some batteries for this feature.

Pampers Parents loved how the Baby Einstein 5-in-1 Journey of Discovery Activity Gym could be customized to the baby’s needs with its interactive and removable toys. Other Pampers Parents loved the bright colors and music options, as well as the size of this baby gym.

Although the manufacturer claims the mat itself is machine-washable and easy to clean, some Pampers Parents said they found this baby gym was difficult to keep clean and not actually machine washable. Some Pampers Parents also said the mat was not cushioned enough.

It had lots of features that would let the gym grow with my baby. I also loved that it collapsed down so well. I could store it under the couch and pull it out for tummy time without it taking up valuable floor space.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: It also includes a hand puppet and a mini suitcase for the balls.

Price*: about $57.84 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Is customizable for different stages of development✕ On the pricy side
✓ Wide variety of color and music options✕ A little difficult to clean
✓ Size✕ Not cushioned enough 

 

3. Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym

Why pick this one? The Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym comes with more than 10 toys and activities, including rattles, soft toys, and a baby-safe mirror. The toy toucan that sits atop this play mat plays music and features flashing lights. It’s detachable so it can even go with you and your little one if you want to play with it separately.

The overhead arches feature lots of little loops so you can decide where to attach each toy — nice and low or up high.

This activity gym has 20 minutes of music that you can either play for your baby, or put it on the setting where the music, lights, and nature sounds can be activated by your older baby.

Pampers Parents liked the bright colors, detachable toys, and the price. They also found this baby gym was very easy to set up and dismantle.

Keep in mind, some Pampers Parents said the downsides of this gym are that it lacks enough cushioning and that it is not as durable as they would have liked.

I chose this one for several reasons. First, it was easy to store. The toys come off for easy cleaning. As my child grew, they were able to start playing with some of the items that came with it even after they were no longer using the mat… My child loved the bright colors.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: The play mat is colorful and machine washable.

Price*: about $59.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Stimulating colors and music✕ Could be bigger
✓ Easy-to-set up and dismantle✕ Could be more durable
✓ Price✕ Could feature more cushioning

 

4. Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym

Why pick this one? Pampers Parents said they liked this baby gym for its soft and washable material and its ability to keep babies entertained. It comes with a few simple hanging toys and a very colorful mat.

Pampers Parents loved that this baby gym could be folded up and put away for easy storage or travel, so if you’ll be on the road a lot with your baby this could be the product for you.

Like the others on our list, this activity center comes with the option for tummy time, lay and play, or sit and discover, plus it comes with a large peek-a-boo mirror to entertain your baby.

Some Pampers Parents said they found it slipped on hardwood floors and some Pampers said they found the mobile part of the gym came off too easily.

I chose the Infantino Twist and Fold because of the safety ratings and the easy take down and store features. Both my son and daughter have loved their play mat. I would recommend it to all new parents.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Comes with a large mirror you can use for a game of peek-a-boo.

Price*: about $37.47 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Can be folded and put away✕ Mobile may come off too easily
✓ Material is soft and washable✕ May slip on hardwood floors
✓ Keeps the baby’s attention 

 

5. Bright Starts 4-in-1 Rounds of Fun Activity Gym & Ball Pit

Why pick this one? This baby gym and ball pit helps entertain your baby with lights and 20 minutes of melodies, as well as loads of activities to choose from. With its foldable sides that can be used to create low walls, this product creates a place for little ones to play in, which Pampers Parents loved. However, some Pampers Parents said they found the sides were a little on the low side, as their babies could climb over and escape easily. Keep in mind that the sides are not meant to be used as a play yard that keeps your baby in safely; rather they are to be used to make a ball pit for your little one to play in. All you have to do is add the included balls and your baby has her very own ball pit! And for this purpose the height of the sides may be perfect. Pampers Parents liked that it is easy to transport, clean, and disassemble. However, one downside Pampers Parents noted was that it could be a bit easier to store, and that the durability of this baby gym could have been better. The hanging toys include plush toys, a baby-safe mirror, and several rattles. There’s a carrying case for the colorful balls, and a pillow.

"I love the hanging toys that come with this mat and how easy it is to disassemble for when accidents happen on the mat. Easy to clean. I was able to use the toys on my stroller and on the car seat. Highly recommend this brand and product!”

—Pampers Parent

Highlights: Comes with a light-up elephant music box that your baby will adore gazing at.

Price*: about $79.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Sides can be folded up to create a ball pit✕ A little difficult to store 
✓ Easy to disassemble and transport ✕ Durability could be better
✓ Easy to clean   

 

6. Tiny Love Gymini Deluxe Infant Activity Gym Play Mat

Why pick this one? This baby activity gym has many fun features that could keep your little one entertained for months to come. It comes with a baby-safe mirror, a teething ring, plush toys, satin ribbons for more tactile fun, flaps that reveal fun characters, and more.

This activity gym also comes with a take-along electronic toy bird with interactive lights and music.

Pampers Parents loved the versatility of this baby gym, and the fact that the mat was secured in four places, making it more stable. They also liked that it could be machine washed. Some Pampers Parents said they wished the mat were thicker and more cushioned.

We were able to receive the most 'bang for our buck.' The toys are detachable, so we are able to bring them with us wherever we go. Our son is able to use it for tummy time, as well as for regular play time on his back. We have had this play gym since he was 2 months old, and this is his favorite thing to play with.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Adjustable arches mean you can customize this activity mat to your baby’s developmental stage and position the toys so your baby is encouraged to look in all different directions.

Price*: about $64.99 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Adjustable to different ages and developmental stages✕ Mat could be thicker and more cushioned
✓ Secure and stable  
✓ Machine washable 

 

7. The Play Gym by Lovevery

Why pick this one? This play gym is the most expensive on our list, but all the features it offers may make it worth the price!

The Play Gym by Lovevery comes with five Montessori-inspired development zones to help your little one learn and explore.

The zones are designed to be revealed or concealed to prevent overstimulation and promote learning. And when it comes to learning, the manufacturer claims the key learning areas are: learning to focus, making sounds, how things feel, hiding and finding, and exploring colors.

The included detachable ball and teether are designed to be mouthed, gripped, and passed from hand to hand. There are also learning cards featuring black and white patterns, images of everyday objects, and a baby-safe mirror that you can swap out to keep your baby engaged.

There is also a dotted cover that can be used to turn to turn the activity gym into a fort.

You’ll never be stuck on what to play with your little one, as this activity gym comes with a little booklet filled with ideas.

The manufacturer claims that this gym provides a whole year of play, with age-appropriate activities to help promote brain and motor skill development. Another claim is that it’s easy to set up and take down.

Some Pampers Parents mentioned that they liked that it followed the Montessori methodology to help foster their baby’s cognitive development. They also liked that it was made from sustainable materials—like sustainably sourced wood—and praised the design.

Some Pampers Parents felt that the mat could have been bigger and more toys added to the gym. The high price was the main complaint from Pampers Parents, though, so keep this in mind when making your choice.

I loved the idea of my baby being engaged through play rather than lights and sounds. I do think there is room for both, and we have a variety, but Lovevery has a fantastic philosophy.

Pampers Parent

Highlights: Comes with a lifetime lost parts promise, so if you lose any piece of this baby gym, Lovevery will replace it. The play mat itself is machine washable.

Price*: about $140 on Amazon.com

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

✓ Montessori-inspired development zones ✕ Has a high price tag
✓ Made from sustainable materials ✕ Could have more toys
✓ Designed with your baby’s learning in mind 

 

The Bottom Line

With so many types of play mats on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the choice. Do you need a simple mat that serves as a comfy spot for your baby to play or enjoy tummy time? Or would you prefer an activity gym with lots of tactile toys, flashing lights, and even music?

Choosing the right baby gym or play mat is a highly personal decision. Whether you’re drawn to certain colors, the toy selection, or the overall setup, you’ll know which one is right for you and your baby when you see it.

Think about what you need, and what features you’d like in your baby activity mat or baby gym, and you’re sure to find the perfect one on this list.

Recall Notice

Before buying a product, always check that it’s approved and hasn’t been recalled on sites like the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.

How We Got These Results

We surveyed thousands of parents in the Pampers Community and asked them to choose the products they love the most, and to share their views on specific products and product categories. Based on the survey responses, we have taken the top product picks and added our own research to create this article. The aim is to help you choose the right product for you and your family. We might receive commissions on purchases made from the links in this article, but the products featured are the Pampers Community’s top choices.